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A guest feature by Littlestone.

The Rudston Monolith
©
Littlestone

To quote Wikipedia, “The Rudston Monolith at over 7.6 metres (25 ft) is the tallest megalith (standing stone) in the United Kingdom. It is situated in the churchyard in the village of Rudston (grid reference TA098678) in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”

So, to mark this year’s St Valentine’s Day, Moss and I decided to make the 30 mile drive over from where we live in North Yorkshire to Rudston village to see for ourselves the ‘real thing’. Nothing quite prepares you for this ‘real thing’. Photos of the monolith we’d seen before but first sight, and first touch, of this towering Neolithic edifice left us both speechless. If there’s ever a stone that puts its neighbouring church into a shadow this is it. And the fact that it’s stood there for some 4,000 years makes it even more awe-inspiring. As ever, the similarity with other subsumed (Christianised) sites in Britain, seems the same. The Rudson Monolith stands close to a water source. A Roman villa once stood close by and there are Roman tiles in the church walls. There are also the remains of a Roman sarcophagus in the graveyard.

Outlier stone and the remains of a Roman sarcophagus behind it
©
Littlestone

Googling ‘Rudston Monolith’ will throw up all sorts of info but what intrigued me most, being actually there on site, was the smaller outlier stone in one corner of the graveyard. The stone is of the same composition as the monolith itself and evidently was once situated close to it. Could it be the missing top of the Rudsone Monolith? Did it fall away naturally or was it cut off because it offended past norms of acceptability? Who knows, but here’s an interesting comparison from Brittany in France.

The Plonéour-Lanvern megalith in Brittany, France circa 1900
Collection Abbaey de la Source, Paris
 
 
Happy 2017 from our base in misty North Yorkshire
©
Moss

Standing stone on the North York Moors
©
Littlestone

A Dream of Solstice

Qual e’ colui che somniando vede,
che dopo ‘l sogno la passione impressa
rimane, e l’altro a la mente non riede,
cotal son io…

Dante, Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

‘Like somebody who sees things when he’s dreaming
And after the dream lives with the aftermath
Of what he felt, no other trace remaining,

So I live now’, for what I saw departs
And is almost lost, although a distilled sweetness
Still drops from it into my inner heart.

It is the same with snow the sun releases,
The same as when in wind, the hurried leaves
Swirl round your ankles and the shaking hedges

That had flopped their catkin cuff-lace and green sleeves
Are sleet-whipped bare. Dawn light began stealing
Through the cold universe to County Meath,

Over weirs where the Boyne water, fulgent, darkling,
Turns its thick axle, over rick-sized stones
Millennia deep in their own unmoving

And unmoved alignment. And now the planet turns
Earth brow and templed earth, the crowd grows still
In the wired-off precinct of the burial mounds,

Flight 104 from New York audible
As it descends on schedule into Dublin,
Boyne Valley Centre Car Park already full,

Waiting for seedling light on roof and windscreen.
And as in illo tempore people marked
The king’s gold dagger when he plunged it in

To the hilt in unsown ground, to start the work
Of the world again, to speed the plough
And plant the riddled grain, we watch through murk

And overboiling cloud for the milted glow
Of sunrise, for an eastern dazzle
To send first light like share-shine in a furrow

Steadily deeper, farther available,
Creeping along the floor of the passage grave
To backstone and capstone, holding its candle

Under the rock-piled roof and the loam above.

Seamus Heaney

 

Leigh’s Message: Not Anywhere
 
It’s not often that The Heritage Trust involves itself in political or economic issues but, since relocating to North Yorkshire, the issue of fracking in this part of the world (and elsewhere) has been thrown into sharp focus. The need for a sustainable energy source is undeniable but we cannot support a source that relies on fossil fuel as being the one. The economic arguments in favour of fracking may, or may not, be good but both the short- and the long-term environmental arguments for it are, in our opinion, zero.
 
Please take a moment to listen to Leigh’s Message. We don’t ask you to do anything, if you think she’s right then the time may come when your voice will matter.
 
 
 
 
 
 A dog tooth unearthed near Stonehenge and dating to around 5,000bce
 
The tooth, above, was found at Blick Mead in Wiltshire, southern England, and is believed to be evidence of the earliest journey in British history; so claims archaeologist David Jacques. The tooth is thought to be from a pet Alsatian-type dog that travelled 250 miles from present-day York, in northern England, to Wiltshire in the south. Blick Mead is close to Stonehenge, although Stonehenge as we know it today would not have existed.
 
According to BBC News, David Jacques is reported as saying –
 
“The fact that a dog and a group of people were coming to the area from such a long distance away further underlines just how important the place was four millennia before the circle was built,” Mr Jacques said.
 
“Discoveries like this give us a completely new understanding of the establishment of the ritual landscape and make Stonehenge even more special than we thought we knew it was.”
 
It has also been suggested that the dog was a trade item, though no evidence for that theory has been advanced.
 

Wade’s Causeway, North Yorkshire, circa 1995.
Notice at bottom left that there are four upright stones. These are unique in British Roman roads, and are thought to be there to stop the road slipping in the wet peat of winter.
©
Colin Coulson
 
For more on Wade’s Causeway see The Heritage Trust’s feature by Moss here, and the Wikipedia entry on the Causeway here.
  

St Andrew’s Church Coke House, Normanby, North Yorkshire, England

St Andrew’s Church, in the little village of Normanby in North Yorkshire, once had two coke-fired stoves burning in order to keep its congregation reasonably warm during those cold, north country winters of yesteryear. The coke fires in the church have long since gone but the church’s coke house still remains. Though in relatively good condition, this elegant little building needs some consolidation to its roadside foundations, as well as a new wooden door on its east side and a new wooden hatch on its west.

Deteriorating roadside foundations and wooden hatch

 

 
 
Rievaulx Abbey by William Westall (1781-1850)
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The Trustees of the British Museum
 
Since relocating from the south to the north of England, exactly one year ago today, The Heritage Trust has been busy exploring this part of the country (North Yorkshire) and is pleased to announce that its Outreach Event this year will focus on the medieval Christian Heritage of the area. The Heritage Trust’s 2016 Outreach Event will take place over two days beginning Saturday, 13 August and ending Sunday, 14 August. Our itinerary includes a visit to the spectacular ruins of Rievaulx Abbey, and its new museum, followed by lunch at a nearby 15th century pub. We will then travel on to the charming market town of Pickering and visit the church of St Peter and St Paul there to view its world-famous medieval murals. In past Outreach Events The Heritage Trust has tried to combine culinary delights with the heritage issues we are concerned with. The first day of the Event will therefore conclude with an evening meal in one of North Yorkshire’s finest Chinese restaurants – The Queens Head at Amotherby.
 
On day two of the Event we plan to meet at 9am in the new Costa Coffee shop in Pickering. From there we’ll take a quiet back road over the stunning North York Moors to Whitby. The route will travel through part of  the North York National Park and will take us past a section of the Wheeldale Roman Road, the Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor and several of the enigmatic Wheeldale standing stones.
 
 
Section of the Wheeldale Roman Road in the 1960s
 
 
The Three Howes Bronze Age barrows on Murk Mire Moor
©
The Heritage Trust
 
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One of the Wheeldale Stones that stand along the Roman Road between Egton Bridge and the ford at Wheeldale Gill
©
Littlestone
 
On arrival in Whitby we will make our way up the 199 Steps, made famous by Bram Stoker in his Gothic horror novel Dracula, to St Mary’s Church and the stunning remains of its nearby 16th century Benedictine abbey. Here the Event will end, although participants might want explore the rest of Whitby as they wish. There is much to see in Whitby, including the Captain Cook Museum, the Whitby Museum in Pannett Park and the town’s many unique and charming little ‘yards’. There is no charge for participating in the Event, although those who do will need to provide their own transport to and from sites and pay for their own meals, admission to sites etc. Please email us if you are interested in participating, or click on the Forthcoming Events link above for updates. Otherwise just meet us outside the English Heritage gift shop at Rievaulx Abbey on Saturday, 13 August at 10am (look out for people wearing The Heritage Trust badges).
 
 
 
The 199 Steps leading to St Mary’s Church and Whitby Abbey
©
The Heritage Trust
 
 
 
The new museum at Rievaulx Abbey. Image credit English Heritage/PA
 
Maev Kennedy, writing in The Guardian, reports on the opening of the new Rievaulx Abbey Museum in north Yorkshire –
 
Some of the loot missed by the salvage men who stripped one of the most important and beautiful abbeys in Britain, when Henry VIII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries, is going on display for the first time in a new museum at Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire.
 
The artefacts include a beautiful carved stone doorway, reconstructed for the first time since it was buried in a heap of rubble almost 500 years ago, along with a massive ingot stamped with the king’s emblem, weighing half a tonne, made out of the lead from the abbey roof that was melted down in a fire made from the timbers.
 
More here.
 
 
The central alter stone at Rievaulx Abbey. Originally a pre-Christian standing stone?
©
The Heritage Trust
 
One of two Anglo-Saxon cross-heads embedded into the south wall of All Saints Church, Sinnington, North Yorkshire
©
The Heritage Trust
 
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Detail of The Martyrdom of Edmund on the north wall of the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pickering, North Yorkshire, England
 
A project to highlight one of North Yorkshire’s hidden pictorial gems is being launched in Pickering this evening. The Pickering Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is aiming to conserve its medieval wall paintings and improve visitor facilities through a Heritage Lottery Fund project entitled Let there be Light.
 
Pickering Church contains the most complete set of medieval wall paintings so far discovered in Britain (see our earlier feature here). The paintings, executed over 500 years ago, remained hidden under a thick coat of plaster until they were accidentally rediscovered in 1852. The Church is now working closely with the University of York on the best way to conserve and display these unique works of art.
 
This evening’s launch event will begin at 7:30 and will include a talk  by Dr. Kate Giles, leading expert on the paintings. There is no charge for the evening and those attending will have the opportunity to offer views and suggestions on the project.
 
 
 
Models submerged in flood water at the Jorvik Viking Centre, York England
 
Most people living in Britain will be only too aware of the floods that have hit the north west of the country over the last few days. The devastation has left thousands of people with wrecked homes and/or businesses and more damage is forecast with the arrival of Storm Frank which is due to sweep into the area tonight. Amongst the devastation there is at least one piece of good news. Although the Jorvik Viking Centre in York has been flooded all of its priceless artefacts have ben moved to safety at a higher level or elsewhere. The Independent reports –
 
York’s Jorvik Viking Centre has been closed for the first time in 32 years after the exhibition was submerged in 50cm of dirty floodwater. The city has been severely hit by flooding over the Christmas period. The water levels of the River Ouse and River Foss are now falling but nine severe flood warnings are still in place mostly around York.
 
Earlier, staff had removed important artefacts [from the Centre] and helped build a barricade to try to protect the centre from the flooding. In a statement, Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, which owns the centre, said: “When we first became aware of water leaking into the basement, we immediately transported all of the historic artefacts within Jorvik up to the first floor, and they have now been moved off-site to a safe location.”
 
More here.
   
 
A Roman sewer discovered by a contractor below the corner of Church Street and Swinegate in York, England. Photographed in 1972 it was hailed as one of the city’s most important finds
 
More old photos of underground York here.
   

Thornborough Henge, North Yorkshire England

Stuart Minting, writing for The Northern Echo, reports on the concerns of Historic England to the proposed plans to site a solar farm close to the Thornborough Henge Scheduled Monument complex –

A GOVERNMENT service which champions England’s heritage has condemned a scheme to site a 960-panel solar farm near the most important ancient site between Stonehenge and the Orkney Islands.

Historic England said the small-scale renewable energy scheme at East Tanfield, near Ripon, could harm the neighbouring Thornborough Henge Scheduled Monument complex, which featured ritual structures, massive circular ditches and banks dating back 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.

North Yorkshire County Council archaeologist Lucie Hawkins has called for the application to be withdrawn, stating she was disappointed the plan had been submitted to Hambleton District Council without any assessment of the impact on the historic environment.

More here.

   

 
 
Stone way-marker on Murk Mire Moor, North Yorkshire
©
The Heritage Trust
 
Historic England’s latest feature on its blog here examines some of the ancient paths and highways of England –
 
From main roads connecting towns and cities to meandering green lanes and mysterious paths to nowhere, our highways and byways are steeped in history. Freight lorries bound for the Continent still use prehistoric tracks, long-distance coaches hurtle along Roman roads and farmers depend on medieval lanes to reach their fields.
 
For more features by The Heritage Trust on ancient roads click on the Ancient roads and tracks category above
 

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